There are very few things granted with internationally similar reactions; even on the most black and white topics it’s possible to get that devil’s advocate who likes to remind you that the mould isn’t that cool a thing to fit into, even when it’s universally perceived to be right. But there does seem to be one thing which causes stress and worry to every individual who experiences it, even though hindsight often depicts these emotions as needless once the event has passed.
I’m talking about Change: the great creator of doubt and uncertainty and the master manipulator of unconscious thought. Although often necessary and even beneficial, Change wields the unruly sceptre of turbulence, destined to disrupt our daily lives and thwart our perception of control.
As a race, we tend to go to great lengths to avoid Change – we create routines and traditions, things which bring us stability and comfort by momentarily preventing Change’s magnetic pull towards ‘the new’. And when ‘the new’ comes too close, a bad day characterised by potential instability – an unsuccessful work meeting or an uncharacteristically low grade – we comfort ourselves by reverting back into ‘the old’: that one pair of tracksuit bottoms we’ve had for 16 years, the meal we used to eat when we were sick or that one film we’ve watched a thousand times because it’s like pulling on a pair of fluffy socks. Comfort lives in ‘the old’. So what do we do when ‘the old’ is disappearing faster than brandy at a family reunion? What can we scramble to cling onto when all we’re grasping at are routines and traditions which no longer exist, memories which only serve to remind us of the dangerous new world we’re about to face, with no ‘old’ to come back to when inevitable instability seeps into our lives?
Well, Change has a friend who always walks 10 paces behind and slopes around in its shadow so much we often don’t see it’s there at all: this is Growth, and it always follows. And as big and unmanageable as Change can seem, Growth is always right behind as we push through into ‘the new’.
Every life stage is overlooked by Change, it’s impossible to avoid it, even as hard as we often try. Take my situation, I’m in what I refer to as ‘the void’ – the great expanse of time between 6th form and university in which I am preparing for my most monumental encounter with Change so far. Everything I’ve ever known, my routines, my friends, my clothes, my work, my entire life for the past 18 years is slipping away from me like sand through a sieve. Come September I am going walk straight through the gaping mouth of Change into a world in which I will have no place, and that universal reaction I talked about is flinging itself around my stomach with as much force as Dwayne Johnson’s fist coming at my face, and it’s having a similar effect.
But I know that, although Change may just hit me like a sledgehammer, Growth will be right behind to pick me back up and, come October, I will have a place in that world, my world. And soon I will create routines and traditions, I’ll discover that one meal I always cook in the run up to finals and I’ll be introduced to new favourite films which I will watch in 20 years’ time in an effort to restore the comfort of what will then be ‘the old’.
Because I am about to undergo a huge adventure in my life that will be so overlooked by Change that I will grow more into who I am supposed to be in my future than I ever did in the comfort of my past. And I can’t wait to meet who that’s going to be.
Guest blog by Suzanne’s daughter Melissa, who is receiving her A level results soon and about to begin her journey to university in September.